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Iraq To Appeal World Soccer Ban

The Iraqi national football team in 2004
The Iraqi national football team in 2004
BAGHDAD -- Iraqi officials say they were not surprised that soccer's world governing body suspended the country from international competition and are working on an appeal, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI) reports.

Samir al-Musawi, a member of the executive bureau of Iraq's Olympic Committee (IOC), told RFI that a new committee will be formed to take care of soccer in the country and that lawyers are already working on an appeal to FIFA.

FIFA banned the current Asian champions from international competition on November 20 after the IOC disbanded the governing board of the Iraqi Football Association (IFA) after a yearlong feud between the two organizations.

Al-Musawi blamed IFA's governing board and its former head, Hussain Said, for the latest developments, noting that it was providing FIFA with false information.

Iraqi parliament deputy Jazair al-Sahlani said that the committee has proof of irregularities within the IFA over the past five years and will provide it to FIFA.

Deputy Ahmad Radhi, the head of parliament's Youth and Sport Committee and a former well-known soccer player, criticized both the IFA and the Olympic committee saying that these problems benefit only those who try to profit from them.

Rahdi said he tried to find an agreement between the two bodies and was surprised that the IOC decided to disband IFA's governing board.

New elections for the IFA were to be held on December 23.

It is unclear if they will still be held then.

Iraq surprised many when it won the Asian Cup in 2007.

It also hosted two international matches against Palestine in July -- the first time since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.